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Memories make friendship sweeter

July 04, 2009|By KATE COLEMAN

I've been traveling.

I flew to a wedding in California a few weeks ago.

Although I had accepted the invitation and really wanted to go, planning the trip and actually getting there - with a wheelchair - were more-than-daunting prospects.

As they so often are, my amazing friends were way ahead of me. Unlike me, Lori and David travel - a lot. Unlike me, they are organized - a lot. They figured out when we would leave on which planes getting to which airports and when and how I would return with different friends, Winnie and Jack, who also travel and are well-organized. A lot.

I made it and realize just how valuable travel can be.

I'd been to Pebble Beach 20 years ago when I was married and my kids were 7 and nearly 10 years old. My family and several of these same friends visited this gorgeous spot where friends Beth and Jeff have made their life. Now we gathered again for their daughter Jayme's wedding.

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The Monterey Peninsula is gorgeous, and David and Lori made sure I saw it. They strolled - I rolled - along Monterey Bay in the beyond-charming community of Pacific Grove. In perfectly mild and sunny weather, the paved walkways at the storied Cannery Row provided views of sunbathing seals, roosting cormorants and patient pelicans.

I "oohed" and "aahed" at nearly every turn on the exclusive 17-Mile Drive. The deluxe homes and resorts are remarkable, but I was wowed by the bay and ocean views, nonchalant deer and lush vegetation - gnarly trees, many-colored native wildflowers and blooming succulents everywhere I looked.

We spent a couple of hours at the 1850s Mission Ranch in Carmel-by-the-Sea, sitting in sunshine, overlooking a green pasture with sheep so fat and shaggy they looked round.

Soooooo relaxed, I skipped my nap.

Yes, I've been traveling - psychically as well as physically.

My journey of more than 2,500 air miles across several states and a couple time zones also marked my passage to a new place - a new phase in my life.

It's not something that's happened suddenly. It's just that as usual, I don't realize big things until they come along and smack me in the forehead.

My Monterey epiphany was that the children of my friends and my own kids - people I've known since they were babies - are grownups.

The corollary of that statement, of course, is that my friends and I - baby boomers all - have grown older. (Notice that I can't seem to bring myself to say, "We're old.")

We're not quite ready to pass the torch, but we certainly are enjoying sharing the light.

Jayme and John's wedding was a wonderful coming together of the generations.

I was pleased that the gray-haired deejay played songs I recognized. I loved that the bridal party and their young contemporaries danced and sang along to the Isley Brothers' "Shout" and the Motown favorites of their parents' era.

I also was pleased to see several of my contemporaries still rocking on the dance floor when the playlist changed to songs with a more hip-hoppy beat - none of which I recognized.

And I'm OK with that.

Our children are not children any more. But I loved looking at the beautiful bride and still seeing flashes of her face as the 5-month-old I first met a couple of decades ago.

The shared experiences of my lasting friendships enrich my life and make its celebrations sweeter.

Learning that was certainly worth the trip.

Kate Coleman covers The Maryland Symphony and writes a monthly column for The Herald-Mail.

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